- Publisher: EA Sports
- Developer: EA Tiburon
- ESRB Rating: “E" for Everyone
- Genre: Golf
- Pros: Total Swing Control; boost pins; fun and satisfying gameplay; decent Kinect controls; you can "earn" DLC courses for free
- Cons: Tiger Legacy Challenge kinda iffy
Tiger Woods 13 features 16 on-disc courses to play though (including Augusta National and the Masters Tournament introduced in Tiger 12, of course) in a number of different modes and match styles. In a rather genius move, you can also unlock the 20 available DLC courses through the use of in game coins that you earn by playing through all of the modes. You "rent" a course for a round for a set number of coins and get to play it. The idea is that by earning "Gold Course Mastery" status (hitting greens in regulation, fairways in regulation, birdies, eagles, etc.) you will earn unlimited access to that DLC course for free. The trick is that the courses cost a lot of coins to "rent", and it will take you 5-6 rounds on a course to earn gold mastery status, so you either have to play the game a ton to earn coins legitimately, or you can spend MS Points to buy coins in bulk. It is kind of sneaky on EA's part, but also kind of awesome since it will allow dedicated fans to earn more courses just through playing the game normally. Or you can just pony up the MS Points to buy the courses from the get go, but it is awesome that the option to earn them for free is even here.
Modes include everything you would expect. The career mode is interesting because you start out as an amateur, work your way to the Nationwide series, and eventually the PGA Tour. The progression of your created player is very naturally paced and it is very satisfying to work your way up the ranks. Another nice feature is the addition of boost pins that you can unlock by spending the in-game coins. Unlike years past where the pins where just decorative, the one-time-use pins you earn in TW13 actually give you a boost for that round - lessen the effect of the wind, boost XP by 5-7x, increase stats, etc..
Tiger Legacy Challenge
The other main single-player mode in TW13 is the Tiger Legacy Challenge where you play through Tiger's entire career starting from when he was just a toddler. You do trick shots in Tiger's backyard, go to the course with his dad as a kid, win youth titles, head to Stanford, win amateur championships, majors, and more. The mode is really quite lengthy and offers a lot of stuff to do that follows Tiger's career amazingly accurately. It can be a bit difficult at times, though (you have to do very specific, very accurate things and trying and failing a dozen times isn't fun), and we're not fully convinced how fun it is to play through someone else's golf career. Yeah, we know we gushed over the Michael Jordan stuff in NBA 2K11, but major NCAA and NBA moments are a lot more interesting than suffering through youth and amateur golf for several hours. It would have been more fun, and more interesting, if the toddler and youth stuff was applied to your own created character's career to make your own moments instead of just following Tiger. And, frankly, we're not sure how comfortable we are with glorifying Tiger Woods quite this much at this point.
The controls are also enhanced to let you change your stance to work in a draw or a fade, and you can also pinpoint where on the ball you want to hit in order to develop more spin or a flatter shot or whatever you want. Putting is also a bit tricky because you basically set the marker at how far you want to hit it, and then your putt will only go that far (barring down or up slopes, of course) if you take a full stroke swing. Again, being smooth and straight when you hit the ball is the key. Having a little hitch in your swing on the putting green can cause problems, let me tell you. It all means that you have a ton of control this year, but also a lot more ways to screw up. There is a bit of a learning curve - I shot 6 over at Pebble Beach my first round with the game, and I haven't shot over par at Pebble in a TW game for years - but you do figure it all out and the game gets very fun and very satisfying after a couple of rounds.
The controls are somewhat complex and there is a bit of a learning curve, but once you figure everything out you can play pretty efficiently without too much fuss. Kinect can't exactly measure swing speed or angle super precisely (you can do half swings, but it doesn't always register properly), so you basically have to treat every swing like a full power swing, but it does work just fine. I would say it is simplified a bit from the regular game, but never insultingly robotic or automatic feeling like the golf in Kinect Sports Season Two, so it is still fun. You can change your stance in the menu to work in a draw or fade, and when the ball is in the air you can add spin in any direction by closing your fist and then moving your hand in the direction you want it to spin. It may sound janky, but it all works just fine when you get used to it. My first round at Pebble Beach with Kinect? A glorious 9 under par (though I did have the advantage of playing the game for a couple days and figuring out the core mechanics before I played with Kinect, but you get the idea). Playing with Kinect works fine and is a lot of fun.
Presentation wise, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 is a fine looking game. Not a drastic improvement over the last couple of games, but it looks good. Likewise, the sound isn't anything spectacular, but the commentary is solid so you can't really complain.
All in all, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 is packed with features, has new gameplay mechanics that let you play more realistically than ever (with a controller, at least), and even packs in solid Kinect controls that make this easily the best Kinect golf game available. EA even innovated how you can get DLC by letting you earn it in-game (or you can just buy it). Great single player modes. Solid online modes including making your own Country Club so you and your friends can challenge other clubs. It really is a big, beefy, feature-rich game that plays extremely well and is worth the full MSRP asking price. We highly recommend Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13.